In Great Cove, Brooklin, Maine
۞This week’s posting is dedicated to our friend and schooner-lover Bill Borghesani. Bill, now retired, helped pay for law school many years ago by sailing as a deckhand on the fabled schooner Alice S. Wentworth. Launched in 1863, Alice freighted commodities in Maine and elsewhere before becoming a cruise ship here. She eventually was moored in Boston Harbor where she appeared briefly in the background of a scene shot for the classic Thomas Crown Affair, starring a cool Steve McQueen and a hot Faye Dunnaway. She (Alice, not Faye) was destroyed by a storm in 1974 at the age of 111, but left behind a fascinating history, including many tales that Bill recounts to this day.۞
August has brought the Cove just about every variation of summer weather there is. Thus, having our choice, we choose to begin on a sun-gleaming day. There’s a steady sea breeze that shepherds a herd of clouds above the blue waters of Eggemoggin Reach. It’s low tide, when strips of ledge in the Reach are revealed like a hidden world rising. And out there, barreling south just beyond Great Cove’s sheltering Babson Islands, is Victory Chimes.
She’s magnificently under full sail, formally dressed to travel back into time. Victory is not the oldest schooner working these waters (she was launched in 1900), but she’s the biggest: 170 feet long overall (counting bowsprit). She’s the only remaining three-master in the Down East windjammer fleet and today each of those masts is under billowing sail and her three jibs are flying.
We return to the Cove when it’s engulfed in thick fog. It’s fairly common to see schooners under significant sail leave the Cove “in the soup,” thrilling passengers and relying on radar, sonar, and lookouts.
What’s not common is to see a large windjammer barreling into the busy Cove “with almost everything up” and sweeping into a tight arc to drop anchor 50 feet from another vessel. That’s what we see this day: The yellow-hulled, 145-foot Heritage suddenly parts a solid gray curtain of fog heading toward us. She’s got all sails up except for her fore topsail. She’s dropping her jibs as she swings around, and anchors. The next day is sunny and we watch Heritage collect its passengers from shore and sail out. Designed with schooner features, the Heritage was launched for passenger cruising in 1983.
On a partly sunny day, we watch the Stephen Taber crew collect her passengers and treat them (and us) to a departure under sail. Stephen, launched in 1871, was a true commercial coaster before being refurbished for tourists. She’s 115 feet overall and appears to be one of the most responsive schooners when under sail.
Fog returns. We go down to the Cove and watch the Angelique raise her bark tan sails, hoist anchor, and disappear into the horizon. Launched in 1980 for the tourist trade, she’s 130 feet long overall – a massive structure silently and invisibly sailing the Reach.
The Mary Day, a frequent visitor to the Cove, is now moored in fog here, with crew up high checking her rigging. She was launched in 1962 for touring and is 125 feet long overall. We return to watch Mary wake up to the sun. Her passengers go ashore for the morning and return to the schooner, which drifts a few hundred feet to Babson Island and oversees a lobster bake on the beach.
You can join us on a virtual tour during these maritime days by clicking the link below to view 33 images. We recommend that your initial screening of the images be in full-frame on your computer monitor. To make that happen, click on the featured [largest] image on the gallery page to which the link will take you. Use your left and right keyboard arrows to go back and forth; press Esc to return to the thumbnail gallery.) Here's the link:
Barbara and Dick